United States Raises Concerns About the 17 Jailed Activists
Angolan human rights defenders, Rafael Marques de Morais, has given an interview to the Portuguese news agency Lusa about his latest meetings with Obama Administration officials to brief them on the situation in Angola.
One of the main concerns underlined in his conversations with US officials was the state of health of two jailed political dissidents, Nito Alves and Nuno Dala, both of whom are gravely ill. Nuno Dala has been on hunger strike for 26 days.
“The United States has expressed grave concern over the treatment of these two men who are being held in inhumane conditions in prison and have not received adequate medical attention,” said the rights defender.
Angolan human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais was in Washington DC this week to brief Obama Administration officials on the fate of the 17 political dissidents recently given long jail terms after a show trial in the capital, Luanda.
Marques de Morais – an award-winning journalist – was invited to the US State Department for meetings with Steven Feldstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the Bureau for Human Rights, and Todd Haskell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the Bureau of African Affairs. He briefed them regarding mounting concern over the human rights situation in Angola. “We discussed in detail the case of the 17 political activists, given lengthy jail sentences after being convicted of criminal association and conspiracy to foment rebellion.”
“Both officials expressed their concern over events in Angola. They wanted to hear an independent opinion. We also discussed the cases of Cabindan activists Marcos Mavungo and Arão Tempo, due to go to trial soon.”
One of the main concerns underlined in his conversations with the US officials was the state of health of two jailed political dissidents, Nito Alves and Nuno Dala, both of whom are gravely ill. Nuno Dala has been on hunger strike for 26 days.
“The US administration is very concerned about what is happening to Nito Alves and Nuno Dala. I told them that the prison conditions are inhumane, and neither has had access to appropriate medical attention,” Marques added. They also discussed the way in which the Angolan judicial system has been used to persecute activists and dissidents.
Official reaction to the verdicts came in a statement last Friday, stating “The United States believes the harsh sentences handed down by the Angolan court against the activists is a threat to freedom of expression and peaceful association.”
“We have to make every effort to ensure that our countrymen are set free. And that those who really do constitute a criminal association in Angola, the people who are stealing and looting, dishonouring and destroying the dignity of the entire nation, should be put on trial. Not people who attempt peacefully to make their voices heard for the common good,” Marques said.